A Look Back at the ADC Gala, Design's (Sorta) Oscar Night

Last Tuesday, May 8, the Art Directors Club held its 91st Annual Awards gala, a festive affair attended by some of the best and brightest in advertising, design, and publications. After a generous cocktail hour, attendees filed into the auditorium of Espace on Manhattan’s West Side for the award presentation. The president of ADC’s board, Benjamin Palmer (of the Barbarian Group), gave an introduction, while John Boiler (of 72andSunny), the host as well as the chair of the advertising jury, had an admonishment to ad professionals: Don’t abandon print! Then the presentation was underway.

The awards were presented as an animated slideshow, with each winner given just a few seconds on screen. Though there was a constant commute from auditorium to bar, a few projects drew enthusiastic responses: a student commercial for Dirt Devil, and another for Land Rover; Mercedez-Benz’s invisible car; “Keep the Meter Running,” a student project from Miami Ad School, in San Francisco; and the Canal+ bear-skin-rug spot.


Toward the end of the evening came the “special awards,” in which winners were invited up on stage to receive their trophies and pose for a photo (about as close to the Oscars as design gets). This year, the ADC Agency of the year went to the Parisian firm BETC Euro RSCG. BBDO won Network of the Year. Arem Duplessis and his staff at The New York Times Magazine snagged Design Team of the Year. Finally, the School of Visual Arts claimed School of the Year for the third straight year, as Richard Wilde accepted the award.

For the second-annual ADC Designism Award, which honors work that encourages social or political change, two winners were awarded: LOWE/SSP3 for its “Operation Christmas” program (a project that also won a Gold in advertising), and Creative Artists Agency, in Los Angeles, for its “Back to the Start” commercial for Chipotle (also a winner of four other Gold cubes).

The ADC also introduced the first ever Audience Award, recognizing Gold Cube winners with the highest ranking in public polls. It was given to both Mirada and SYPartners, in Los Angeles, for their work on the IBM “Think” installation.

The ADC Awards Exhibition, featuring all the award winners, is open at the Art Directors Club headquarters (106 West 29th Street, New York) though May 31, 2012. The gallery is open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

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